Excerpt from the Yellow Springs News
Summer after summer after summer, villagers have seen him out on the T-ball diamond at Gaunt Park every Friday night: baseball hat perched on his head, hair tied back in a ponytail, a big grin spreading across his face, surrounded by laughing, shouting kids.
On Friday, July 30, Jimmy Chesire was out there once again, leading village kids in a final game of Perry League T-ball before retiring after 35 years. More than 50 kids showed up for Chesire’s final game, and Mayor Pam Conine, having already honored him with a proclamation in 2019, honored him again with what she called the “first-ever Letter of Appreciation and Love.” At the customary end-of-season potluck/picnic, kids and adults ate together beneath a banner reading, “We Love You, Coach Jimmy,” reminiscing and bidding Chesire farewell.
The following Wednesday morning, wearing his Perry League baseball hat, Jimmy Chesire sat down at Young’s Dairy with this reporter — who had, she sheepishly admits, never previously spoken with him in person anywhere but the baseball diamond. This is not uncommon for a certain subset of villagers, who primarily know Chesire, if not from experience as a T-ball player or parent, then from his weekly summer write-ups of T-ball games in the YS News.
As a writer — not only for the YS News, but also as a novelist and former longtime writing professor at Wright State — Chesire said he’s made a lifetime effort of studying people.
“I’m interested in people, and how they become whatever they are,” said Chesire between bites, as both interviewer and interviewee spoke over cheeseburgers. “A lot of times people say, ‘Well, it was just an accident — I didn’t plan to do this.’”
Chesire paused, considering his next words.
“I was hoping for an ‘accident’ in my life — and I think that’s what T-ball was,” he said. But life, of course, doesn’t always start where these happy accidents occur — and, in Chesire’s case, it was his early life that would, in many ways, shape his approach to both his writing and his love of T-ball.